International Student Finds Success on Campus and the Baseball Field

The Journey of a Japanese student who finds his home-away-from-home at Otterbein.

HARUKI TADA ’24 chose Otterbein sight unseen, as barriers during the COVID- 19 pandemic forced the Japanese baseball player to make a college decision without ever stepping foot on campus. Once he was on campus, he found a supportive and welcoming community dedicated to his success.

A native of Tokyo, Tada began forming a unique relationship with head coach George Powell while attending IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. Powell visited Tada three times during Otterbein’s 2020 spring break trip and became intrigued with the dual talent, who could play the infield and pitch.

“Coach Powell was such a big influence for me,” Tada said. “He made me feel really comfortable even though I had never been here. He made sure I met everyone and felt good about this new journey. I’ve never felt like I don’t fit in.”

Questions arose about Tada actually showing up when messages through WhatsApp went unanswered for most of that summer due to internet issues. But Powell received a message in August from the 5-foot-5 recruit, saying he would be in Westerville the following day.

Since that time, Powell has completed Japanese lessons on the Duolingo app and even suggested he would consider sponsoring Tada for dual citizenship down the line.

“It’s been a real pleasure watching him develop,” Powell said. “Seeing a young kid embrace our Otterbein culture and adjust to college is always rewarding for a coach, but especially Haruki’s acclimation. He brings such a positive energy and continues developing across all phases—athletics, academically, and socially.”

Tada spent his first two seasons as a backup/JV option but continues working for more opportunities on the diamond. In the classroom, he has a 3.55 cumulative GPA as a sport management major and finance minor.

“I was more nervous for the academic setting than baseball,” Tada said. “Some classes were overwhelming at first, but it’s taught me not to be shy or afraid of a challenge.”

He has formed quality relationships with many teammates, notably roommates/teammates Jamie Perebzak and Nick Plucinski.

His path recently opened the door for another player from Asia, Minseo Jang (MJ) from South Korea, to join the program at the recent semester break. The two were former teammates at IMG Academy and are now reunited.

Tada also completed an internship at IMG last summer, working as a camp counselor and on the operations side as a translator for other Japanese prospects. His long-term goal is to remain in the United States, obtain a work visa, and own a company helping more international/Asian student-athletes do what he’s done.

Haruki Tada with roommates/teammates Jamie Perebzak and Nick Plucinski

Haruki Tada with roommates/teammates Jamie Perebzak and Nick Plucinski.

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